Turkey’s 1980 coup leaders sentenced to life imprisonment

The two surviving leaders of the brutal military coup have appealed against their sentences

The two surviving leaders of the brutal military coup have appealed against their sentences

ANKARA – Two surviving leaders of Turkey's bloody 1980 military coup were on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment. 

On September 12, 1980, following years of unrest, a group of generals seized power in the bloodiest political intervention of modern Turkish history. For the next three years the generals ruled through the National Security Council, during which time 650,000 people were detained, 230,000 put on trial, mostly for political reasons, and 50 executed. A further 299 died through torture and unsanitary prison conditions.

Now in late old age, former generals Kenan Evren, 96, and Tahsin Sahinkay, 88, were sentenced to life. They did not attend court because of poor health, instead appearing via videolink from hospital.

Their trial began in April 2012 with the prosecution claiming the pair had attempted to "eliminate" the Turkish constitution and overturn Parliament. Prosecutor Erdinc Hakan Ozdabakoglu asserted that the defendants began plotting the coup a year before it was launched and requested heavy prison sentences despite the men's age and infirmity.

The trial was moved to the High Criminal Court in Ankara after "specially authorized" courts were abolished in March this year. Both defendants have lodged an appeal against their sentences with the Supreme Court.

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